I am a big fan of salt. I will choose a bag of salty chips over a cupcake or anything sweet. One of my favorite salty dishes is Vietnamese Pho. I usually call this dish a “sodium bath” because all I taste is salty goodness. However, the flavor is much more than that. The food in Vietnam is simply delicious and we have done our fair share of trying new things as well as sticking to favorites.
After looking up traditional Vietnamese dishes, I realized how few of them we actually saw on the menus in the places we visited. Probably because restaurants are catering to tourists more than we actually want. We can grab a burger and a hot dog back home! Give us something authentic!
1. Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup)
TO DIE FOR! Well, that’s if you find a place that knows how to make a mean soup. In America, a burger from Red Robin in Seattle will taste the same as a burger from Red Robin in Iowa. In Southeast Asia, the same dish will never ever taste the same. And that’s something we became very familiar with in Vietnam.
You can opt for vegetarian, chicken, pork, or beef with this dish. Occasionally you can order shrimp but more than likely, they’ll try to convince you not to.
Recommendation: Add some chili’s, extra pepper, sriracha sauce, and pile on the sprouts.
2. Spring Rolls
You can order various styles of spring rolls here. Crab, pork, vegetable, fried, dry paper, “fresh,” etc… the options are unlimited.
3. Chicken with Lemongrass and Chili
This dish can either taste amazing or it will be destroyed by an overpowering lemongrass flavor. You won’t know until you try it! It comes with a side of white rice and that helps soak up the extra sauce at the bottom of the plate.
4. Honey-Orange Chicken/Duck
We waited too long to try this one. AMAZING! The perfect balance of honey with a slight orange aftertaste. Also served with white rice so the sauce can soak in and you can savor the flavor.
5. Bánh Khọt
Imagine a very thin, crispy crepe with shrimp, spring onions, and other vegetables folded inside. Then, cut pieces of the “pancake” and wrap it in spring roll paper (probably not the official title), and dip it in your choice of sauce. We chose fish sauce and soy sauce.
This dish is most popular in Central Vietnam.
6. Bánh Bèo
A small steamed rice cake filled with dried or fresh shrimp, scallions, crispy fried shallots, and fish sauce. Sounds interesting, right?! My absolute favorite in Vietnam. They come in miniature bowls that you scoop out after sprinkling some rice vinegar on the top.
This is a popular dish in Hue, Vietnam.
7. Traditional Fried Rice
I used to think it was difficult to ruin fried rice but we’ve discovered it is much easier than anticipated. That’s why I’m sharing how great this ONE order of fried rice was. It came with a dipping sauce and a side of vegetables and beef. We found this little restaurant in Sapa and we’re so glad we did.
8. Mango/Banana Pancake
More like a crepe with honey drizzled over it. You can eat this for breakfast or as a dessert. Actually, eat this whenever you want! (This dish caters to tourists, obviously!)
We’ve found the food in Central Vietnam to taste better than the food in Northern Vietnam. The way things were prepared and the flavor of the ingredients stood out more and gave us a lasting impression while in Hue and Hoi An. However, we found two great restaurants in Sapa. There’s food everywhere and the menus are all fairly the same but the taste may be vastly different. Try new things and decide if you like them for yourself.